2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Edmonton Oilers, Jay Woodcroft, Klim Kostin, Stuart Skinner, Vegas Golden Knights

Oilers Gameday Preview: Vegas Golden Knights, Game 6

The Edmonton Oilers are in a do-or-die situation heading into Game 6 Sunday against the Vegas Golden Knights, down 3-2 in the series. They haven’t been playing their best hockey in this series, so it’s tough to determine where the team’s head is going into the most crucial game of the season. The lack of offensive production from the depth forwards has hurt the team, but they are still playing well enough to keep the Oilers in it.

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Darnell Nurse will be back from the one-game suspension he earned at the end of Game 4, as well Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo makes his return following his suspension for slashing Leon Draisaitl, so both teams will be closer to 100%.

As mentioned, the Oilers will need everyone in their lineup to step up. They’ve had production from their power play as Draisaitl, Evan Bouchard, and Connor McDavid have been the best offensive players in the playoffs so far, but there can be no passengers if they want to force a Game 7 back in Vegas.

The Oilers Should Start Skinner

Fans were quick to blame Stuart Skinner and call for him to be the backup in Game 6 after he was pulled yet again for Jack Campbell. It’s easy to argue that Campbell has earned an opportunity to start as his relief appearances have been stellar in both this series and in Round 1 against the Los Angeles Kings.

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It’s also easy to counter with the fact Skinner came seemingly out of nowhere and took the starting role away from Campbell and was one of the main reasons the Oilers have been successful to this point, so it’s going to be a tough decision for the coaching staff heading into their season deciding game.

I would play Skinner. I’m on the side of those who agree he has been one of the team’s best players this season, and the team plays better in front of him. I’m not dead set against giving him a much shorter leash than he’s had, but after seeing this season how inconsistent Campbell has been, I’d go back to Skinner.

There is no word on what the team’s plan is as of the morning skate. Skinner was in the starter’s net, but it seems to still be up in the air for who they’ll put between the pipes for Game 6.

Should Woodcroft Juggle The Lines Otherwise?

There have been some calls for the coaching staff to change the lines around to spark the team a little bit, and I think that makes a lot of sense. Personally, I would give Klim Kostin a bit more ice time. His play with the puck on his stick is solid, he’s a big body and he’s a workhorse. Moving him up a line, maybe two would help the team just a little.

Klim Kostin Edmonton Oilers
Klim Kostin, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

It’s little moves to spread out the strengths that will help the Oilers regain control of this series. I would move Ryan Nugent-Hopkins down to the third line as well. He’s been great, but I would love to see them spread the stars out a bit more. I don’t think we’ll see any drastic changes before the game, but little swaps could help the team find some new chemistry and get going.

News/Keys To The Game

The Oilers need to come out of the gates strong if they want a chance to win Game 6. They need to come out hitting, shooting, and everything they can to get under the Golden Knights’ skin quickly. They have more than enough skill to take them down, it’s a matter of following through with the gameplan and making the proper adjustments needed to defeat one of the strongest defensive teams in the NHL.

The Oilers have gotten into penalty troubles lately, and whether or not you agree with them, they’re getting called. They need to play a cleaner game and let the Golden Knights take the penalties. The powerplay has been at the top of their game recently, and they could use any advantage they can get.

The Oilers are expected to start Skinner, but there is no confirmation as of yet. The Golden Knights will likely go back to Adin Hill, who has stepped in and been solid for them since Laurent Brossoit went down with an injury.

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